“What we see the federal government do is chronically, intentionally underfund us, and so they’re creating this cycle of poverty,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “It’s repetitive injustice. It’s a deliberate pattern of harming our communities through underfunding.”
The 2023 federal budget tabled Tuesday, March 28, 2023, by federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland commits a total of $4.1 billion over the next five years, towards Indigenous spending. These investments are welcome but fall far short of real progress toward improving outcomes for First Nations.
Each year, the AFN advocates for First Nations priorities through its participation the pre-budget process. Many of the priorities identified in the AFN’s pre-budget submission, such as infrastructure, education languages, policing and restorative justice were noticeably absent.
Sustained and continued investments are needed to support First Nations in becoming equal partners in resetting and restoring the relationship. This budget is only a small portion of the necessary resources required to affirm First Nations inherent and Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction.
Rights and Justice
The budget designates $95.8 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, to support Indigenous families access information about their missing and murdered loved ones, and to enhance victim services. This funding would renew existing programming and expand it to include support for families of 2SLGBTQI+ Indigenous victims who are men.
Also included are $2.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to support the National Family and Survivors Circle and $2.2 million over five years to keep families and survivors at the centre of the implementation the Calls for Justice.
Gottfriedson Class Action
The budget has committed $2.8 billion as part of the Band Class settlement, to establish a trust to support healing, wellness, education, heritage, language, and commemoration activities. The government will also propose legislative amendments to exclude the income and gains of the trust from taxation.
Child and Family Services
Budget 2023 commits $171 million to ensure First Nations children continue to receive the support they need through Jordan’s Principle. The budget also includes funding to support the implementation of An Act Respecting First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Children and Families (Bill C-92) in Peguis First Nation and the Louis Bull Tribe.
The federal budget commits $4 billion over five years implement an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, currently under co-development with Indigenous partners.
This investment falls well short of the AFN’s pre-budget submission stating funding needs of more than $60 billion to close the gap in housing.
Budget 2023 includes $2 billion over 10 years, previously announced in February, to address the unique challenges Indigenous Peoples face when accessing health care services and support immediate and long-term Indigenous health priorities.
An additional $810.6 million over five years, beginning in 2023-24, for the Non-insured Health Benefits program, including mental health services, dental and vision care, and medications.
The budget included nominal funding for additional areas, including nation building, environment assessment and protection, and funding for engagement on the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
Additional details are included in the chart below.
For further information and updates, please follow @AFN_Updates or visit www.afn.ca.
Budget 2023 Investment Areas
|Fiscal Year 2023-2024
|Comments *grey indicates Indigenous Peoples may access a proportion of investments*
|Urban, Rural,and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy.
|$4 billion, over seven years, starting in 2024-25
|To implement an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, currently under co-development with Indigenous partners.
|Economic Reconciliation Framework
|$5 million in 2023-24
|To Indigenous Services Canada to support the co-development of an Economic Reconciliation Framework with Indigenous partners that will increase economic opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, communities, and businesses. The Framework will help define the role of federal and Indigenous organizations in advancing economic reconciliation.
|Pathways to Safe Indigenous Communities Initiative
|$20 million over four years, starting in 2022-23
|To support Indigenous led projects for safer communities
|Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
|$95.8 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $20.4 million ongoing
|To help Indigenous families access information about their missing and murdered loved ones, and to enhance victim services. This funding would renew existing programming and expand it to include support for families of 2SLGBTQI+ Indigenous victims who are men.
|$2.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-24
|Support to the National Family and Survivors Circle To keep families and survivors at the centre of the implementation of the National Action Plan and the Federal Pathway.
|$2.2 million over five years, starting in 2023-24
|To establish an oversight mechanism to monitor and report on the progress of implementation.
|$2.5 million over five years, starting in 2023-24
|To facilitate and coordinate work on advancing the National Action Plan by establishing a standing Federal-Provincial-Territorial-Indigenous table on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQI+ People. This table will provide a specific forum to take action on areas of shared roles and responsibilities regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous, Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ People, including prioritizing discussion on how to launch a “Red Dress Alert” to notify the public when an Indigenous woman or two-spirit person goes missing.
|Creating an Indigenous and Human Rights Ombudsperson
|$1.6 million over two years, starting in 2023-24
|To support the Ministerial Special Representative appointed to provide advice and recommendations on the creation of an Indigenous and Human Rights Ombudsperson.
|Non-Insured Health Benefits Program
|$810.6 million over five years, beginning in 2023-24
|To support medical travel and to maintain medically necessary services through the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program, including mental health services, dental and vision care, and medications.
Indigenous Health Equity Fund.
over ten years
|To address the unique challenges Indigenous Peoples face when accessing health care services, and support immediate and long-term Indigenous health priorities.
|Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
|$22 million over three years, starting in 2023-24
|To Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to engage with Indigenous communities and to update the federal guidelines for federal officials to fulfill the Crown’s duty to consult Indigenous peoples and accommodate impacts on their rights. This will support the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and provide more clarity on how the government will proceed to ensure an effective and efficient whole-of-government approach to consultation and accommodation.
|$171 million in 2022-23
|To Indigenous Services Canada to ensure First Nations children continue to receive the support they need through Jordan’s Principle
|Wellness Supports for James Smith Cree Nation
|$43 million over six years, starting in 2022-2023
|Funding proposed to support mental wellness and healing for James Smith Cree Nation, including through the building of a new wellness centre in the community and repurposing the existing Sakwatamo Lodge.
|C-92 Implementation, Peguis First Nation and Louis Bill Tribe
|$444.2 million over three years, starting in 2022-23
|To support Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and Louis Bull Tribe First Nation in Alberta to exercise jurisdiction over their child welfare systems and make decisions about what is best for their children and families.
|Gottfriedson Band Class Settlement Agreement
|As part of the Band Class settlement, to establish a trust to support healing, wellness, education, heritage, language, and commemoration activities. The government will also propose legislative amendments to exclude the income and gains of the trust from taxation.
|$76.3 million in 2023-24
|To Indigenous Services Canada to continue to support the administrative capacity of First Nations governments and tribal councils delivering critical programs and services to their members.
|$10 million in 2023-2024
|To CIRNAC to extend the Nation Rebuilding Program and support Indigenous-led activities to facilitate their own path to reconstituting their nations.
|Environmental Assessments in the Territories
|1.6 million over two years, starting in 2023-24
|To the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency for the Northern Projects Management Office to increase capacity for federal participation in environmental assessments and consultation with Indigenous communities on major projects in the territories.
|National Benefits-Sharing Framework
|$8.7 million in 2023-24
|To Natural Resources Canada to support deeper engagements with Indigenous partners, including Indigenous rights-holders.
|Reserve Land and
Environment Management Program
|$30 million over five years, starting in 2023-24
|To Indigenous Services Canada to enhance the Reserve Land and Environment Management Program, ensuring First Nations can develop capacity to exercise increased responsibility over their lands, resources, and environment.
|First Nations-led National Land Registry
|$35.3 million over three years, starting in 2023-24
|To Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Natural Resources Canada to co-develop, with the Lands Advisory Board, a new First Nations-led National Land Registry that will provide communities in First Nation Land Management with more opportunities to realize the economic benefits arising from local control over their lands.
|Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program
|$6.9 billion over 12 years
|Funding proposed for CIRNA’s Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program to continue to support environmental remediation activities related to eight large and complex abandoned mine sites in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
|Advancing Gender Equity
|$160 million over three years, starting in 2023-24
|To the Women’s Program to maintain historic funding levels for Canadian women’s organizations and equity-deserving groups, with a particular focus on Indigenous women, women with disabilities, members of the 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and newcomer, Black, racialized, and migrant women.
|Northern Participant Funding Program- Environmental and Regulatory Assessments
|$19.4 million over five years, starting in
|To Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to increase the participation of Indigenous Peoples and other Northerners in environmental and regulatory assessments of major projects.
|$650 million over ten years, starting
|To support monitoring, assessment, and restoration work in the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, St. Lawrence River, Fraser River, Saint John River, Mackenzie River, and Lake Simcoe.
|$22.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-24
|To support better coordination of efforts to protect freshwater across Canada.
|$85.1 million over five years starting in 2023-24
|To support the creation of the Canada Water Agency, which will be headquartered in Winnipeg. By the end of 2023, the government will introduce legislation that will fully establish the Canada Water Agency as a standalone entity.
|Species At Risk
|$184 million over three years, starting in 2023-24
|To Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Natural Resources Canada to continue monitoring, protecting, and promoting the recovery of species at risk to help restore their populations.
|Fish and Fish Habitat
|$135 million over two years
|Funding proposed for DFO to continue to meet the requirements of the Fisheries Act, as updated in
2019, to protect fish and fish habitat.
|Local Food Infrastructure Fund
|$10 million in 2023-24
|Top ups to the Local Food Infrastructure Fund to strengthen food security in Northern, rural, and Indigenous communities across Canada.
|Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy
|$25.4 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $0.6 million ongoing
|To the Department of Canadian Heritage to continue to support Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy and fight all forms of racism
|Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion Secretariat
|$1.5 million over two years, starting in 2023-24
|To the Privy Council Office to create a new Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion Secretariat to ensure that considerations of antiracism, equity and inclusion are applied in the development of federal government policies.
|First Nations Infrastructure
|Budget 2023 announces that the Canada Infrastructure Bank will provide loans to Indigenous communities to support them in purchasing equity stakes in infrastructure projects in which the Bank is also investing. These loans will be sourced from the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s existing funding envelope.
|First Nations Lands Management
|A commitment to negotiate a renewed operating funding formula with the Lands Advisory Board to ensure the continued growth and success of First Nation Land Management.
|Reduction in Spending
|Budget 2023 proposes to phase in a roughly 3 per cent reduction of eligible spending by departments and agencies by 2026-27. This will reduce government spending by $7.0 billion over four years, starting in 2024-25, and $2.4 billion ongoing. Reductions will not impact direct benefits and service delivery to Canadians; direct transfers to other orders of government and Indigenous communities; and the Canadian Armed Forces.